We are often faced with big decisions during our lives. Boxers or briefs? White or whole wheat? Med School or McDonalds? These are all equally important decisions, but now, as fall rears its leafy head, a decision looms which dwarfs all others in importance. Battlefield 3 or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3?

In the gaming world, the first person shooter is king of the castle, and these two titles are at each other’s throats to wear the crown. So, how can we know which title to buy? We can’t. We can, however, take a look at the two games and their histories in order to make a decent pre-launch assessment.

COD Modern Warfare 2 single-handedly showed the world how a first-person-shooter should be made. It’s the best-selling 360 game of all time, and for good reason.

Infinity Ward’s 2009 shooter boasted online gameplay that was almost too fun and addicting for its own good. Their weapon-unlocks, kill-streak reward system and prestige mode kept gamers wanting more for months on end. Everything just seemed to “work” with MWF 2. So its sequel has to be a smash hit, right?

Wrong. Gaming behemoth Activision quickly sniffed out the immense success (and money) surrounding Modern Warfare in 2010 and subsequently bought Infinity Ward and its famed Call of Duty series. This pissed off a lot of people, including half of the Infinity Ward team, causing them to leave the company following the announcement in what must have been an epic rage quit.

So, as many people don’t actually know, MWF 3 has been created with the experience of only half of its founding team.

Is this enough reason to not buy the game? Probably not. From viewing gameplay videos of MWF 3, it does look as though there has been a lot of copying and pasting going on. The graphics look roughly identical, and the multiplayer seems to be basically the same old thing, with a few tweaks here and there to spice things up.

Certainly, this fall we won’t see the revolutionary and creative changes seen from Modern Warfare to Modern Warfare 2, but let’s get real here. It’s still Call of Duty, which in my and many others’ opinion is the greatest console shooter series of all time. And even if it ends up being a re-hashed MWF 2, that’s a tough game to beat.

This is where Battlefield 3 hopes to change things.

I had the opportunity to play the beta for EA’s new Battlefield 3, and let me just say that all the hype over this game is well deserved. Clearly EA is trying its damndest to smash its way into the shooter market, which Modern Warfare has a death grip on.

Although the beta was mind numbingly glitchy (as betas usually are), the game hooked me instantly. Drawing from the beta and other video previews, it’s readily apparent that Battlefield took a few cues from Modern Warfare and incorporated them into its newest title, especially when it comes to ground combat. There is a lot of sprinting, crouching and jumping over walls going on, but really, it’s the lack of emphasis on ground combat that makes Battlefield so unique.

Battlefield is all in all a completely different beast than COD. Everything is destructible, including walls, trees and … well pretty much anything that can physically explode. Players can get in helicopters, humvees, tanks and even fighter jets in the middle of a multiplayer match to dole out additional destruction in the most badass ways conceivable.

There aren’t any rewards for kill streaks like those seen in MWF 2, but the fact that you can simply hop in a chopper rather than have to get seven kills in a row for one makes up for this. Graphically, Battlefield 3 takes the cake. Its new Frostbite engine puts Call of Duty’s ancient engine to shame (though Infinity Ward insists that MWF 3 will look noticeably better than 2).

So the question really comes down to: Do you buy Battlefield 3 Oct. 25, or do you grind your teeth waiting for MWF 3, debuting Nov. 8? Here’s my advice for anyone on the fence. Battlefield 3 will probably be hit or miss for EA, though I’m guessing it will be more hit than miss.

If indeed Battlefield 3 is a smash hit, you’ll know within 24 hours at the least. If it fizzles, play Gears a few more weeks until COD comes out. Or, if you’re a shooter connoisseur, buy both. This is the route I plan on pursuing, and though I may need to commit a few small crimes to scrounge up the cash for two consecutive games, I think both games will offer their own distinct flare.

All things considered, both of these games are going to make for one hell of a holiday season, so stock up on Coke, Cheetos and beer because big games are near!

Andrew Lahr is a creative writing major by day, gamer by night. Email questions, comments and column ideas to [email protected]